Norwegian firms called ‘racist’

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A leading Norwegian headhunter who recruits engineers and other skilled workers for Norwegian oil and oil-service companies says he’s encountered a “shocking” degree of what he calls blatant “racism” among prospective Norwegian employers. Even those in dire need of engineers and other specialists routinely turn down top foreign job candidates. They want Norwegians instead.

A looming shortage of workers in Norway’s offshore industry isn’t helped by attitudes that only Norwegians need apply. One leading recruiter sees routine discrimination against foreigners and seniors, although their presence at the larger firms like Statoil is far more common. PHOTO: Statoil/Arne Reidar Mortensen

Erik Hansen, who heads operations in Norway and Scotland for the world’s largest recruiting firm for the oil and gas industry, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Friday that when Norwegian companies claim they have trouble finding qualified employees, they mostly can blame themselves.

“When we put forward foreign job candidates, or experienced workers over age 55, they just say ‘no, no, no,'” Hansen told DN. He said that all of the 139 management positions that his firm (Progressive Global Energy) has helped fill so far this year went to Norwegians, even though fully 22 percent of the candidates put forward were foreigners.

Hansen, whose firm is a sister company of the recruiting firms SThree and Huxley Associates, said that Norwegian companies’ employment of engineers, project leaders and workers within health care, environmental issues and safety showed the same tendency. Even though Progressive Global Energy presented a majority of foreign candidates, the companies chose Norwegians.

While some companies will argue that they don’t have time to deal with all the paperwork and other immigration challenges attached to foreign job candidates, many of them come from European countries and can obtain work and residence permission in Norway fairly easily. Instead they’re also met with skepticism or outright rejection by Norwegian employers who only want to hire other Norwegians.

“It’s interesting to see how inflexible the Norwegian mindset is,” said Hansen, who has worked in Aberdeen, Moscow, Houston and Singapore. “Norway will lose out unless we take advantage of foreign competence and the experience of older workers.”

That was the theme of a recent conference in Oslo on global mobility and the need for Norwegian employers to look abroad. Government officials have also claimed that a majority of new jobs created in Norway are going to immigrants, not to native Norwegians, although those numbers have been disputed.

‘Good candidate, wrong colour’
What’s most disturbing, according to Hansen, is the “shocking feedback we get from our (employer) clients” when they turn down qualified candidates he’s put forward who are not Norwegian. He told DN he’s heard comments from prospective Norwegian employers like “Good candidate, but wrong (skin) colour,” and “We want cowboys, not Indians.” That led Hansen to make a brave and equally shocking claim:

“Norwegian companies are racist,” he said. “For us, it’s shocking and irritating. Even if you are racist, you can’t afford to be so.”

Norwegian employers routinely demand, for example, that job candidates are fluent in Norwegian even though 90 percent of the employers use English as a working language. He also said Norwegian employers often insist on Master’s degrees even when it’s not necessary for the job involved and when previous work experience is far more valuable.

Age discrimination is another major problem in Norway, according to Hansen, despite frequent demands from the government that Norwegians should work longer, even beyond Norway’s official retirement age of 67. Hansen said his experience shows that highly qualified candidates over the age of 55 seldom are chosen by Norwegian employers even though they have more experience and likely would be far more loyal employees than younger workers who often move on to other jobs after just a few years.

‘Simpler’ with Norwegians
Vidar Skjelbred, head of rig company Songa Offshore in Norway, admits he prefers Norwegian employees. “It’s simpler when everyone has the same basic language,” Skjelbred told DN. “We put a priority on finding Norwegian seafarers for our rigs. We want workers who live close to where they’ll travel offshore from, to their workplace.”

Gisle Johansen of Odfjell Drilling told DN it was “traditional” to value Norwegian leadership, a Norwegian organizational culture and Norwegian management culture.” Both he and Skjelbred justified their preference for Norwegian language proficiency by pointing to strict regulations regarding health and safety on the rigs. It’s better when all on board speak Norwegian, it’s believed.

Workers go on board one of Statoil’s drilling rigs in the North Sea. One recruiter said only the big companies like Statoil or Aker Solutions are able to help workers get through immigration processes and settle in Norway. PHOTO: Statoil/Øyvind Hagen

John Egil Mæland of another major recruiting firm in Norway, Mercuri Urval, nonetheless disagreed  with Hansen’s assessment that Norwegian employers discriminate. Mæland said he hasn’t experienced racism but noted that employers do “prefer folks who have working permission in the country. Many of these companies don’t have time to deal with paperwork or find a home for their recruits. Only the really big companies have the apparatus to help with such things.”

He also claimed the oil and gas industry faces staffing shortages all over the world, not just in Norway. “We tried to attract some specialists from Portugal and Spain, but the Portuguese go to Angola and Brazil where they can speak the language,” Mæland said.

Hansen’s experience as a professional recruiter in Norway is alarming given the need for thousands of engineers and skilled workers, not least in the country’s booming oil and gas industries. DN reported earlier this week that as many as 4,500 workers will be needed just to staff all the new offshore rigs that will start operating on the Norwegian continental shelf during the next three years. The Norwegian Shipowners Association, which faces a drain of competence from offshore shipping firms also facing staffing needs, wondered where all the thousands of workers will come from for an industry that needs so many new employees, and soon.

Hansen reports that he’s contacted by skilled workers from, for example, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain “every day” who are willing to work for Norwegian employers, but the majority are met with skepticism and rejection.

“I think we (Norwegians) are skeptical by nature and we don’t develop in line with the rest of the world,” Hansen told DN. He thinks Norwegian oil and offshore companies should remember that it was foreign oil experts and companies, not least ConocoPhillips, who “started the oil adventure in this country. I think we’ve gotten a bit conceited and forgotten that. We think like Americans did back in the 1950s, but we can’t afford that.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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  • What Mr Hansen says reflects what I and a number of foreigners from English and non-English speaking countries have experienced.

  • Unfortunately, Mr Hansen is absolutely right in his claims.

  • I agree, Neil. So easy to get a work and reidence permission, so difficult to find a qualified job…

  • I tend to disagree, I speak bugger all Norsk, I’ve got a great job working with a good solid Norwegian company that also hires a lot of non Norwegians, we have many engineers who aren’t Norwegian, the two most recent come from Estonia. My team is multinational with Finnish, English, Kiwi, Chinese and Swedish team members.

    • GBCD

      I agree with the Sage, Robert. Just because its not happening to you doesn’t mean its not happening. This recruiter has a better representative sample, plus as a headhunter and a Norwegian he gets that feedback as to why the candidates he puts forth get rejected.

      However , let us know which company you work for. It seems enlightened and should be held up as an example for others.

      • I know it’s not just me with an excellent job, there is a small (and growing) community of Kiwi’s and Aussies living in Norway, just about all of them have excellent jobs in multiple industries, there are several pages dedicated to this community on facebook, I’ve yet to read any posts about people having difficulties getting jobs or this racism issue commented on here. I know I bitch a fair bit about Norway but I’ve never had any complaints about jobs or people treating me differently because I’m foreign. I’ve applied for 3 jobs since I’ve been here and landed 2 of them. I wouldn’t call myself integrated and my Norwegian is pretty basic.

        • the sage

          Yes Robert, then myself, the other posters here, and the many others I know or communicate with on other forums and have exchanges with of a similar nature must either be imagining things, exaggerating things or just making it up to compensate for some psycho-social dysfunction inherent within their unadaptive minds when they come to a similar consensus compiled by their own personal experiences.

          I have even had Norwegians admit and agree to my more scathing criticisms. But it is usually with Norwegians that have actually lived, say…five or more years outside or Norway. Not vacationers and travelers, but those who had to survive and live within another culture for an extended period of time seem to be quite aware, objective enough and accurately self-reflecting to know exactly how things are and what is going on.

          Would your positivity apply as well to all my non-white, non-Norwegian second and third world immigrant friends as well. Because their input is so consistently flattering and filled with positivity and glaringly consistent your own rendition?

          Everything is actually much better than we make it out to be because we are cry-babies, deluded or have some other deficiency in our ability to analyze a situation or the one we find ourselves in with an honest interpretation.

          I mean…because that does seem to be the direction you are hinting at in some way, shape or form.

          The next knee-jerk, default response is to ask or tell me why I don’t leave if I don’t like it and love it.

          Or perhaps you are, with a less-severe interpretation, trying to state that you think things are recently changing in some respects. And if you live in a population center versus a more rural setting this can make a huge difference. There are other factors to consider, but the unflattering, consistent generalizations did not just materialize from the ether.

          If what I am saying is true in the slightest and your survival is at stake in the type of environment in which I describe and you have to make adjustments and skillful accommodations to guarantee your ability to thrive and survive, then I would find formulating a strategy around my interpretation to be more advantageous than considering your own.

          Over-compensation to increase my odds of being self-supportive, being able to make a living, receive deserved advancement not having any negatives whatsoever.

          I made adapted to these changes because I had to and had no other choices when presented with the adversity that I would find living anywhere. It is just that each place, people, culture has its own adversities and limitations to identify. I prefer it that way as it makes me more mutable, stronger and perhaps does, to a minor degree, create positive change within my immediate sphere of influence against these less desirable influences.

          Thanks for sharing, but I think my perspective is more true to reality and it serves my interests better to act accordingly to those people and circumstances that present themselves in this manner that I describe.

          My mother recently asked me how I felt about her moving to Norway. I advised against it and told her to check out Canada…Vancouver.

          • Not to put to finer point on it the majority of people complaining about racism appear to be American, whereas kiwi’s and aussies just tend to get on with it, I don’t know any antipodeans who have had work issues or are experiencing the racial issues that you and others are suffering from. I don’t know any third world immigrants, so have no idea or even care what there experiences might be, but what do uneducated people expect, they aren’t qualified for anything but the most mundane work.

            I have other issues with Norway, but work and racism don’t concern me at all, I’m pretty content.

            • GBCD

              Robert, why not get to know some third world immigrants that are educated? I’ve met Harvard educated Mexicans having a hard time, Harvard being way better than whaterver they have in New Zealand. There are plenty of top notch Indian engineers.

              Why not mentor them since you seem to be so successful? We are all glad that you are successful. And since you seem to be so generous with your time on these forums, why not share your experience. How did you get to be successful. How can American” losers” and third worlders learn from your experience.

              The fact that you dont care makes it worse.
              If you dont care, why do you actively opine in these forums on this topic?

              • I live in the middle of knowhere I’ve never even met a Mexican or Indian here. The only thrird world immigrants I’ve met are the cleaners in my office and some africans and thai’s in my Norsk course, I don’t have any desire to socialise with them, in fact if I was a third world immigrant I could think of plenty of other places to go rather than Norway, my recommendation to them would be to go elsewhere.

                I don’t think Norwegians owe immigrants anything, they were nice enough to let us in so it’s up to use to make the most of it, if you can’t tough it out and land that good job, go home or somewhere else. I delivered newspapers for 6 months through a very cold and wet winter, I did it because I needed to do something, I didn’t expect a top job on arrival, I didn’t complain I just went out and did what I had to do.

                • Regieo

                  There you go again. I am a Nigerian who can to Norway to work after studying in another european country. I came to Norwa with two masters degrees and 6 years of work experience. I am free to move anytime and I am actually on the verge of that. I have a large circle of Nigerian and Africam friends here with very good education working here as professionals.

                  Sure Norway owes me something. I deserve to be treated with respect and valued considering that I am contributing here with education I paid for out of my own pocket.

                  I can assure you that if Norway did not need my skills, they would never allow me to move here. So it should be a win-win for everyone.

                  I am curious to know your reason for thinking Norway is not suitable for third worlders?

                  • No Norway owes you nothing, you came here, they let you in, it’s you who owe them a debt of gratitude, that’s the problem with many immigrants they have an expectation that the host country owes them something when in reality it’s the other way round.

                  • Pamela Kennedy

                    You’re right. Everyone who is ALIVE is owed the basic human right to STAY THAT WAY.

                • Robert…………Norwegians owe to Americans a lot,, more than anybody….but these ungrateful peasants don’t even open the doors to Americans. So what do you say now ? And remember there were so many of them who left Norway a century ago to go to USA during the potato famine…….a poor person inside remains always a poor person.

            • I have to agree with Robert. I’m admining some of those facebook groups and I have rarely seen any issue with race or being foreign in the workplace. Not knowing Norwegian is definitely a big issue that they don’t deal with but once you’ve mastered that it’s fine. And that’s Russians to Indians; Americans to Filipinos.

              • the sage

                Facebook…the epitome of getting out there to get the truth.

                You haven’t looked hard enough or in the right places.

                What do you think others are doing here…spreading anti-Norwegian propaganda to keep them down as a growing world power?

                • Given that the groups have close to 2000 people from all walks of life and regularly meet in person I think it’s a safer pool to draw from than a couple of commentators on discus. But even on this you are at best evenly matched on stories for and against. My first employer here screwed me over and abused his foreigner workbase but given he was Italian I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Norwegian racism. People see what they want to see and attribute things to whatever they want to. I’m not saying you haven’t bad bad experiences or that some of them might have been based on racism but that doesn’t mean we all have to agree with your view of the world or we’re wrong.

            • the sage

              One of my black Somali friends has walking down the street one day on his way to Norwegian class and a car drives up on the sidewalk and swerves to hit him…while the passengers call him racial slurs.

              My black friend from the Caribbean, university educated, has his white girlfriend attacked, grabbed by the throat, lifted off the floor and slammed into a wall in a gas station convenience store because she is “with” a black guy. Cops show up, white witnesses and store clerk say they so nothing. Cops tell my black friend to be more careful where he gets his gas and let three attackers go.

              Go talk to middle easterners, black people from Somalia and the Congo, and domestically enslaved mail-order brides from Thailand.

              • To be blunt many locals (not just rednecks) don’t want middle easterners, somalis and such living here, I just don’t understand why people would move somewhere where they just aren’t welcome, then complain about it, it would be like me moving to Saudi, it would be a daft idea.

                Mail order Thai and Filipino women aren’t just an issue in Norway but all over the developed world. I don’t feel sorry for them, they know what they are getting into, it’s been happening for decades.

                I don’t believe your story about the gas station either, it just doesn’t ring true; have you ever been in a gas station here which doesn’t have security cameras.

            • Regieo

              So Robert, you say you do not care for third worlders or their experiences in Norway. And then you went on to group all third worlders in Norway as uneducated and without any skills. Unless you live under a rock, you must have at least heard of the thousands of third worlders here working as professionals. And I do not mean those that were born here or came here as refugees.

              Why would you know about this group of people when you see things through skin color.

              • Sad to say most third world people I come across drive taxis, clean offices or sell drugs outside Sentral Station in Oslo.

                I don’t know if you’re working or not, but based on you post above I’ll assume your aren’t. So if all the thousands of other educated third world professionals are happily working in Norway and you’re not, doesn’t that say something about you rather than apparently racist hiring policies of Norwegian employers? Maybe your qualifications aren’t needed, or aren’t good enough, or you interview badly and come across as a person with a bad attitude.

  • HedmarkViking

    Seen a few 1st class honours graduates from Cambridge and top graders from HEC in the rejection basket over sub grade NTNU engineers – the excuse…. won´t fit into the company culture. Until the middle managers grads from NHH, BI and NTNU start looking beyond their schools towards global talent nothing will change.

    • GBCD

      Its protectionism not necessarily racism but if you had a shit degree from NTNU would you want some foreigner taking your job and making you look lazy and mediocre by comparison. And would you hire someone that would out shine you? Not in this culture. Not a hint of learning from others best practices or forging alliances to create a win-win. Its human insecurity.

      • aquacalc

        “And would you hire someone that would out shine you? Not in this culture.”
        I don’t think that’s a particularly Norwegian characteristic, as I’ve seen it in US and French companies, too — but not in the best, of course.

        There’s a saying that dropped out of Microsoft’s experience with rapid growth: “As hire As, and Bs hire Cs.” i.e., top-caliber people (the “A” people) — of which there are few everywhere — are highly motivated and personally secure enough to hire the best people they can find (other As). Mediocre people (the Bs), on the other hand, are the ones you’ve described: They don’t want to be out-shined, so they prefer to hire Cs. But that foolish behavior is not confined to Norway.

      • Well, the problem is this culture that doesn’t want change……..These people for as long as don’t want change then it is going to be worse and worse for them, until we see some social confrontation between foreigners and locals.

      • frenk

        Agree – but ‘Sann er det bane’!

  • GBCD

    Well I am seriously considering self deporting and dragging my Norwegian husband with me. Totally my experience that this isn’t a market that values quality. Lack of permits is a lame excuse. Use talent already here.

  • GBCD

    I find that the real staffing crisis is not now but within 10 years . According to the CIA fact book the median age is in the 40s. Keep in mind that the median age includes the boatloads of younger immigrants that comprise refugees, work migrants , and people that married a Norwegian cause immigrants in general are most mobile in their late 20s and early 30s for factors that include being single, having the chutzpah and resources to get out, and ties that aren’t as consolidated as when you are old. So from the ethnic Norsk population you have a lot of late middle age people who just need to hold on 5-10 years to retirement. The are risk averse and since they won’t be in the labor market soon the aren’t that concerned about its long term competitiveness of the company. They know the oil fund will fund their pensions. In the meanwhile they want to coast to retirement without too much competition.

    • GBCD

      And then if the company sees you are 55 they figure: why hire since max you will stay there until retirement but in the meanwhile you will be absent due to illness more, get more vacation…plus they’ll wonder why being ethnically Norwegian and old you don’t want to stay at the old company and wait it out till retirement like the rest. its kind of an indicator you are problematic and can’t get along well or something wrong that is forcing you to look for a new job. Its the famous resource curse (better managed ) plus demographic implosion

  • GBCD

    Apart from the demographic incentives for holding out are absent in Sweden since they don’t have an oil fund and they have similar demographic compositions. In the case of soon to be Swedish retirees they have to expand the tax base by keeping Swedish industry competitive and making sure employment stays in Sweden. The mayor different in attitudes is how pensions are funded.

  • I think if a person wants to live in a different country and work there, of course he must integrate to the culture of this country. In the particular case he/she must know at least the language , english language is world language, but it doesn’t mean that it is enough to do what I mentioned above.

    • nemesis

      And change your name and color…

      • the sage

        Labor minister did an experiment sending out many fake and real resumes to garner job interviews.

        30% discrimination rate just based on not having a Norwegian name and this was just to get the foot in the door and to be called in for the interview,
        Then one must consider what criteria will be used to dismiss you during the interview process. Could that be another 30%…or more?

        Has nothing to do with knowing the language or being tested to determine your competency level for the particular job you are seeking.

        I consider learning the language of your host nation to be a necessary skill.

        Integrating into a culture is much more than that.
        For Norwegians it has many meanings which a foreigner could never actually accomplish or achieve, Because it really has to do with if they like you. And they really don’t like foreigners looking for jobs…as a general attitude…unless they need you to fill a void they cannot presently fill.

    • GBCD

      On the record I think , like the Brazilian guy said, most of the policies are a form of protectionism. And not all firms are alike.

      However much depends on if you came here married to a Norwegian, if you are a refugee with high education, or if you are 2nd generation Pakistani who grew up and went to college here. There was a study in which these “natives” with Muslim names were 30% less likely to get called into interviews. same resume sent under different names, all of them with fully local degrees . Those speak the language and know the culture and are being turned down. I’m not sure what you call that if not racism but it points to something other than language or knowing

  • JC79

    It isn’t just in the science field either. I have a stellar resume, work experience and have been turned down for the most ridiculous reasons. I am American, speak Norwegian, married to a Norwegian, live in Norway and I couldn’t get a job even if the job title had my name in it. I’ve even applied for jobs as a cleaner, a cashier at a grocery store and can’t get those jobs. I have nothing to my name because I have no income and it is not fair or right.

    • the sage

      A sad, but true commentary JC. I feel your pain,

      Even hitting the pavement and going into establishments cold, with no leads whatsoever, with your resume looking for work would be looked upon as a positive attribute in the U.S. Showing that you have initiative and motivation.
      Do that here in Norway and they look at you like you just killed their dog.
      And talk about yourself in a positive or reinforcing light about your qualities and skills and you just committed Norwegian cultural suicide.

      They will just let you wither and die here…should you leave your employment up to them, at their pace and according to their rules.

    • Hi JC. Well ,with a 15 year account manager and administrative manager work history from the US, I’m now a kitchen assistant….and it took several years to get that far. My business experience was by and large considered ‘too aggressive’.
      The good news is someone will eventually take a chance on you. The bad news is, unless your norsk is utterly flawless as is your Norwegian network, it is Very Hard Going.
      Best of luck to you.

    • Andromeda9

      I find that hard to believe.. and btw..most cleaner needs documentation that they have completed a special class/practice – unless it is for a small company cleaning homes.

      If you speak Norwegian well – there are easy jobs to get, if you have the right education that is:
      Engineer with a masters degree and at least 4-5 years of practice in a relevant field

      And unless you live in some tiny village, it is easy to get a job at a gas station (if you have a class B drivers licence), bars if you have some experience, and similar jobs.

      It is not easy to get a job in art, alternative stuff, and stuff that requires a higher education – but that don’t include math, physics and maybe chemistry. We educate lots and lots of people every year, for a job that does not exist. We are like 5 million people in the county..

      Tip: stay in a university, take a few classes, do volunteer work, join a local sports club, start with a hobby and learn to know some of the locals. If you don’t get a job.. move to another city. Larger city = more jobs.
      If you are from the US AND speak Norwegian you can easily start with English classes. Yes, you will have competitors, but there are so many words, expressions and so on they don’t learn in school. You could make a living that way.
      I used to teach math and physics after school, and still do sometimes to get more income. I am sure I could live fulltime just from doing that, and I live in a small city.

      • JC79

        Believe as you will… but I am not educated or experienced in any of those “easy to get” job fields. I am a chef by trade and have an artistic background. There is nothing at the level and caliber I was working in. Not that I even want or care to work at that level, any level is fine. I am not to proud to take a simple kitchen job; that is how I was raised and how I learned. I have been told that my resume is threatening and at the same time bad because I didn’t stay at the same place for longer than 2 years. Oh, gee… I am so sorry I didn’t get stuck being a potato peeler to make your Norwegian self feel better about no movement in your job. I went from good, to better and better and so on chasing a stellar work experiences and try to work with the best chefs in the business. Even after the tourism industry took such a brutal hit in 2001, I kept going. I busted my ass, left my family behind, moved all over the US living out of boxes, never took vacations or did anything but work. None of that is good enough? I don’t expect to be fawned over, but seriously?
        I couldn’t even get a job with a shop that sells kitchen gadgetry. There isn’t a kitchen gadget that I don’t know how to use! They even have kitchens to teach classes in… um.. HELLO!! I am a degree holding chef and you don’t even want me to teach a class every-so-often?
        I don’t live in a small place and uprooting isn’t an option. I live in one of the big cities here. But after applying for every food related job that comes up in town, nothing.. I was even turned down by the Red Cross a month ago!!! They said verbatim to my face “We try to help the immigrants who really need it. You are American and married to a Norwegian. How much help could you need?”
        I have tried to go to school here but NOKUT has decided I would have to do videregående, before moving on despite my having an associates and partial bachelors. Privatist schools are not affordable on one salary. I am mid-late 30s. To get into a degree that they need people in would put me past 40. And how easy would it be then to get a job? I’d be nearly in the same place: No experience here in Norway.

        My norsk isn’t flawless and as far as networking goes… I have no kids and my husband doesn’t have a network around here either. All his friends moved south and he only has one here. I am not sporty and am already in two clubs for the hobbies I do have. Those people know I am looking but are all in the science, maths and medical field. They can’t help me.

        If the US wasn’t such a freaking mess of a place, we’d go live there. Unfortunately, we can’t for a few reasons I don’t need to explain.

        All around it is just crappy and makes one feel less that human when a 15 years of work is so easily dismissed as “You’ve done nothing”. And yeah I am pissed off and rather bitter about it.

        • Observer2796

          Perhaps starting your own business is an idea? English lessons combines with cooking classes? Idk just throwing it out there. Good luck.

  • RFR32

    If you don’t know, Brazilian firms are very ‘racists’ – and this racism is imposed by the government and has a name: ‘Local content’. Briefly explained, every oil&gas firm needs at least 90% local content. But as a ‘poor’ country, the excuse for this racism is local development. But why shoud the foreigns care? Who would like to go to Brazil?

    I’m not Norwegian, and am working in Norway. Where I work, we’re around 90 people, amongst which more than 50 are non-norwegians. We have more than 30 natonalities in our office, from many different colors and religions. Also, in the clients and sub-contractor I deal with, I see many foreigners. Maybe I’m not here long enough, maybe I’ll change my mindset iin the future, but I still don’t see this racism as strong as it sounds here.

    • the sage

      If you are located in Oslo or a population center then your odds are way better and a universe difference than a more rural area. Big difference. If you are in Oslo, then it really doesn’t count because you are living in the largest immigrant community, with the most foreigners and with the most progressive group of Norwegians that may exist.

      If you are working in IT, engineering, construction, oil or some sector where domestic talent is lacking or the service needs an international mix to be able to do it successfully.

      If you want to know about racism then go to a rural language school where the state offers their free Norwegian and speak with the second and third worlders who have been there a couple of years. See how many have been “praktisplass” in a way that can only be defined as legal slavery and indentured servitude. See how many have been told they can’t have a job, a bankcard, a driver’s license or a self-sufficient real contracted job because they haven’t “arrived” after five years of being here to the acceptable standard to be allowed such things. And see how many are actually boxed-in and limited in order to keep them dependent upon the state for housing and expense money. Also talk to the same types who are trying or just getting into menial jobs and how they are treated Norwegian co-workers and superiors. There lies your real proof and validating experiences.

      And I suggest you start reading the many domestic newspaper articles that highlight and reveal the very racism and discrimination against foreigners that is being spoken of here.

  • carrie15

    I believe most of the foreigners here are working as contract staff or temporary staff that is no more than 3 years. No matter how expert a foreigner spoke and write Norwegian, Norwegian companies will reject them. I have applied 5 vacancy a day since July 2012 in hope to find a job before my contract ends. None of the applied vacancy came good news. I cannot even get through the first phase. I have already applied 615 vacancy, and all ended in bad news. Norway government say there is NO JOBS MEANS NO JOBS, Just go home but in fact, there is. It is not for foreigners but for NORWEGIANS only.

    I don’t believe Norway is a small country in the world but compare to Europe, it might be true. If compare to Southeast Asia, Singapore is the smallest but highly adaptable, non discrimination and social-able country. Singapore has no oil income like Norway but Singapore has the best imports and exports trade income.

    End of contract for me. Time to go home.

    • Ed Phillis

      I think its pretty much the same in Sweden. I don’t know but I suspect the Norwegian mindset is a bit like the Swedish mindset. Quite conservative. Slow and steady. Stick with what you know. There may be something in it but countries like the UK and the US tend to embrace the less ordinary and value transferrable skills and dynamism, see diversity as a plus. It gives the impression that Scandinavians think they have got it right. As they tend to top those pretty subjective ‘best in school’ reports they are probably justified in thinking that. At the moment they are the only countries in Europe not struggling for cash and have the luxury of not having to think too far out of the box. I received a response from a recruitment consultant that was illegal in terms of EU employment legislation. She claimed it was a mistranslation when i pulled her up on it.

      I was offered a job in Stockholm without knowing a word of Swedish because i had the skills they needed. If the job had been on the open market it would have most definitely said ‘fluent written and spoken Swedish required’.

      Whenever I’ve worked with Scandinavian companies from a UK perspective, I always thought they all needed a massive kick up the arse.

      If you are bitter, I think you can console yourself with the words of the Bob Dylan song ‘the first one now will later be last…’ Sweden is definitely going to struggle. Norway might take a little longer.

  • the sage

    “Culture”…another abstract and arbitrarily applied moniker that screams of discrimination and dismissive excuses. Ethno and Xeno-phobia disguised as some noble philosophy or cause to preserve some traditional way of life. So therefore to discriminate for this reason…a noble Norwegian cause that all should fight to enforce and protect.
    Fear-based, collectivist. closed-minded, short-sided mind-think.

    Not based upon your education, skills, work experience, knowledge of Norwegian, personality, your familial situation and commitments to be able to stay in Norway at your job long-term and your actual proven ability to work with Norwegians in a professional environment. We can actually skip the practical portion of testing the theory because someone says it must be so with no actual proof that someone will not blend into the work environment or work well with others.

    It all has to do with some assumptive label put upon you that you will never measure up in some “cultural” way that has no overt definition or explanation for you to reference or determine if it is accurately being applied to you for the sake of your dismissal or acceptance concerning getting a job. Anyone can apply this for their own definition whenever they want and you could never rebut it nor measure up to the invisible standard because it is not presented in a way for you to know what it is or overcome supposed limitations.

    If coming into work regularly without faking sick, doing a good job and providing a long-term employment commitment to the company isn’t deemed to be the standard by which you are judged, then you are being judged by some other arbitrary reason.

    The fact that you are not Norwegian, are not white, are too educated and possibly extremely efficient at your job to the point of putting co-workers and superiors to shame all possibly instilling fear in the natives.

    They don’t want that type of hungry competition here as it shows them up, makes them feel highly insecure, and makes the five coffee break workday seem like the realm of the lazy. They don’t want outsiders to bring progressiveness here. They want to define it for themselves and at their own pace, unfortunately when you think you are already at the top of your game, the best, or superior to anyone else…then you never will look truthfully at how the world and others around you can teach you to be progressive. There will be no real progress…but that is key to maintaining their “cultural” norms for which they are so quick to always declare are being threatened by an outsider for any reason they so choose.

    It isn’t their culture that is being threatened or is in danger.
    It is something else that they try to call “culture”.
    And I think I just explained what it really is.

    • That pretty much sums it up.
      No matter who you are, you can’t wash off the foreign…even when you adopt the traditions, the language and the people.

  • You can’t afford Indians better hire cowboys.

    • GBCD

      BK…dont take it so badly. The term “Indian” as in “cowboys and Indians” refers to Native Americans (which were called Indians cause Columbus thought he’d made it to India).. But yeah, though racist its not against people from India only.

      • the sage

        I interpret “Indians” to refer to anyone non-white and “Cowboys” to refer to anyone white. More of the bad guys v.s. the good guys in context.

        This is, even if white and from a western nation, you can still be treated as if you are being racially discriminated against…as a non-Norwegian.

        I had to double check my skin color real quick after I came to Norway because based on how I was being treated, I though I may have turned black without my knowing about it.

  • It’s a rather simple math equation…that I have seen in Norwegian business over and over again.
    Which is better?:
    four salesmen who are their own admins who are in the field 45% of the time because they are all lousy secretaries?
    one admin and three salesman that are all in the field 90% of the time because they are able to do their job.
    Simple efficiency processes seem to be the bane of Norse business.
    Cross training?
    Speak not that word….because the Accountant is on sick leave.

  • essy2

    This article is right my husbands family immigrated here when he was 13 so he speaks Norwegian knows the culture etc. He has 2 degrees 1 in engineering which he gave up when he could not get a job and another in the IT field and he still cant get a job they dont even give him an interview they see a different name and then send replies like “were not looking for your kind of people”. I never new racism existed so bad even between white Europeans! I would definitely leave this place if I didnt have a son who is growing up here I hope just because of his last name he isnt treated as some outsider in his own country.

    • Did it occur to you that he might need to stop and think about why he’s being rejected? The IT industry is desperately short of good workers and trust me last time I did interviews we had very slim pickings. For one I hope he’s not pushing both of those degrees because that will kill him as overqualified straight away. Also “IT” degree is like saying transport licence. Make sure the jobs actually match up to the qualifications. And if it’s all being done right and he still can’t get an IT job then you have missed something. I know a builder who came here less than 2 years ago, did IT courses and got a job straight away. I’d also be happy to put you in touch with an American who said recently his company is paying 5000 nok to any of their employees who can recommend an IT person they eventually hire.

    • An interesting point, is it really you’re son’s own country, both you and your husband are foreigners, so your son probably isn’t classified as a natural born Norwegian, I can site a couple people I know of, one a Swedish girl born here to Swedish parents, she always assumed she was Norwegian and it came as a bit of a shock to her to discover that she wasn’t a Norwegian citizenh, and some Estonian friends of mine have recently had a baby in Norway, the child isn’t Norwegian she’s Estonian, Norway unlike some other countries does not bestow citizenship on a person just because they were born here, either you or your husband has to be a Norwegian citizen for the child to be granted citizenship.

      Not sure what you mean by your kind of people either, if a company did actually respond with a comment like this then you should probably take it up with a lawyer as it does appear to be discriminatory.

  • Equal opportunity and no more racist, please.

  • freeworld35

    I am sure you are all smart people, and i see some like Robert are extra smart. But a quick refresher on the term racist:

    Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior or superior.[1][2][3]The exact definition of racism is controversial both because there is little scholarly agreement about the meaning of the concept “race”, and because there is also little agreement about what does and doesn’t constitute discrimination.[4] Some definitions would have it that any assumption that a person’s behavior would be influenced by their racial categorization is racist, regardless of whether the action is intentionally harmful or pejorative. Other definitions only include consciously malignant forms of discrimination.[5] Among the questions about how to define racism are the question of whether to include forms of discrimination that are unintentional, such as making assumptions about preferences or abilities of others based on racial stereotypes, whether to include symbolic or institutionalized forms of discrimination such as the circulation of ethnic stereotypes through the media, and whether to include the socio-political dynamics of social stratification that sometimes have a racial component. Some definitions of racism also include discriminatory behaviors and beliefs based on cultural, national, ethnic, caste, or religious stereotypes.[3][6]Racism and racial discrimination are often used to describe discrimination on an ethnic or cultural basis, independent of whether these differences are described as racial. According to the United Nations convention, there is no distinction between the terms racial discrimination and ethnic discrimination, and superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere.[7]In politics, racism is commonly located on the far right due to the far right’s common association with nativism, racism, and xenophobia.[8] In history, racism has been a major part of the political and ideological underpinning of genocides such as The Holocaust, but also in colonial contexts such as the rubber booms in South America and the Congo, and in the European conquest of the Americas and colonization of Africa, Asia and Australia. It was also a driving force behind the transatlantic slave trade, and behind states based on racial segregation such as the USA in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and South Africa under apartheid.[9] Practices and ideologies of racism are universally condemned by the United Nations in the Declaration of Human Rights.[10]


    So saying people from middle east, third world etc…. are useless and not welcomed goes into the definition above. It is a disgrace for a highly educated person to judge others based on skin or where they come from. Robert says he has seen cleaners etc… are from third world countries. Did you know that ” the man who saved Norway from oil” ( name of the article in the FT ) was a man from Iraq? And yes, back in the 60’s . And he had just been honored by the King of Norway with a nighthood? Did you not go to universities in Norway and see professors teaching in Norway who are from 3rd world countries? If you do not care how the majority of the world ( 3rd world) are having it, your judgement here on apublic forum is merely a personal oinion that reflects who you are. And obviously from your comments that you do not have ap roblem being ldefined with in the wiki definition of racist.

    To other fellow human beings who care about each other, my advice is to try, try and try. See what the market needs and take courses in new areas , build new skillstowards what the job market needs. Read about interviews and how to master them. I am a different colour, different culture, different beleives but i got jobs in the best and biggest companies in Norway. I am sure you all try your best, but because you are an outsider to the society here, you need to go the extra mile to be better than other candidates, in their standards. You also have to accept the fact that you are second choice when it comes to picking employees here. If your American in America is different then being an American in UK, Norway, Germany etc….. you need to have something different that others can not offer, but the same time something they need.

    All the best to ya’all

  • Most people weren’t up at 2.00 in the morning so I doubt they new who delivered their paper, for all I know they might have though newspaper elves did it, but I always knew I would get a decent job, it was just a matter of time.

    • GBCD

      Yeah but you, know, you could have been mistaken for one of those random poles. Maybe it is just a matter of time. I have two decent jobs, and I guess the message is that you have to pay your dues – learn the language and what-not. There is no need to be racist yourself and assume every brown /black person is an uneducated entitled mooch.

  • I highly doubt that would happen now. NTO, at least in the last year, has been very open for new experiences. I pushed it’s boundaries quite a bit last year when I was an admin. Granted it’s retracted a bit since I resigned but it still is open. There are also a few groups off facebook now trying to do exactly this sort of thing. NIN and ICON for example. I’ve started recently writing a web system to pull the various groups together and would be happy to talk to people who wished to place a union of sorts along side it.

  • I’m hugely involved in the various facebook groups catering to immigrants and as such know fairly well a lot of the leaders of others groups so if it’s something people want to do I will be happy to lend assistance. I can connect people, offer some time and when my web system is complete that can be expanded to help

    • GBCD

      I’ve had similar experiences with these groups to the sage. Alot of pub nights none too professional or none catering to professionals that happen to be lovepats which either married Norwegians or married an expat with a job in Norway. I’d be glad to give a group of your recommendation a try if you think there is one. I am not looking for a job but would bee willing to help mentor others too.

  • I recall an American ex-colleague in Oslo telling me the following. I can’t recall for sure if it was her that experienced this or another friend from the US.

    So essentially she was temping at a school in Oslo until she could find something permanent. Initially they were a little cynical, with her being a bit foreign but they soon warmed to her and were in dire need of someone. Just to be clear, she was also a highly qualified, degree educated American that could do this role in her sleep and this was only a temporary position.

    Before she moved on with her career, she was asked to help find a replacement and shortlisted several candidates which she presented to her superiors. To her amazement, she was asked to split the pile into two; one with the native Norwegian nationals and the second containing all foreigners and those with foreign looking names prior and then to ignore the second pile.

    Naturally she was pretty amazed that this kind of institutional racism existed, especially in a place of learning. They offered defence of this approach, even when she highlighted the fact that she was American and would not have made the cut had they taken the same approach (she was initially referred by a friend and only got the temporary position despite their serious reservations about hiring a foreigner).

    I can understand this idiotic behaviour in established hierarchies, but seeing how prevalent they are in schools and public institutions I really don’t see this being fixed for a generation. Most European countries have had decades to address these issues and still struggle. Oddly enough what is most infuriating is the dismissive way this racism is treated in Norway. Unlike most other racists, Norwegian’s tend to hide their discrimination behind bureaucracy, opaque practices; lack of information and poor excuses such cultural fit.

    I honestly think that Norwegians believe they are better than others and this is ingrained into their culture and psyche. There are countless social and economic policies which make no sense by any reference outside Norway (there are of course those which are very good as well!). When you strip away excuses, they frequently remain because they are “Norwegian”.

    Given its enviable economic position, Norway has the opportunity to become a truly great country and craves this international recognition. I really don’t see it ever reaching this potential until it takes a look at itself and makes some fundamental cultural changes.

  • XK_Libur

    After reading all these posts it boils down that Norwegians are definetly rated as discriminatory, if not racists. Granted.
    I tend to agree. But on the other hand we may want to give them a certain benefit of doubt given the history behind the country. Fifty years ago Norway was the poorest country in Europe. Always growing under the shadow of Sweden … and Denmark, of all lands. And then they “invented” oil. Norway even offered 50% of the oil revenue to Sweden in exchange of the 50% of Volvo … and Sweden refused.

    After ages of rejection it should not come as unusual that they reject others. It is somehow too early to see a real change of attitude. The old guard is partially there and the new one has been raised in that mental environment.

    On top of all this they are (feel) victim of their own success. With so much wealth they are attracting … immigrants. Lots of foreign sounding names, odd color people … even at Utoya some of the victims had non-Norwegian names ….. next you will start seeing those names in real politics and … the Stortinget. Over 10% of the population is immigrant …. Norway, I am sure, is feeling threatened.

    So the country is reacting.

    I am not excusing the attitude. Just trying to give a rationale behind it.

    • A lot of your post is not true, Norway was never the poorest country in Europe, far from it. It was the Swedes who offered 50% of Volvo for a share in the oil not the other way around. Norway has always been resource rich, fisheries, whaling, forestry, hydro electricity, heavy water……………’s main problem was not enough arable land, a problem which it still has today.

  • norwegians are the most horrible race i have ever encountered.

    i prefer animals to norwegians. they are pure filth

  • i support this article 100% . If it wasnt for foreigners norway wouldnt be like it is right now. There is alot of conservatism in many things. Conviction is hard that it makes one think that norwegian employers have a myopic thinking.

    They advertise and call for english applications , and after the interviews …. well they dont like to accept defeat from those with foreign background but only say it was hard to make a decision !!!! It really sacks and shows open racism in the recruitment process.
    Worst they ask for masters and as a foreigner one has all the qualifications but they come up with funny regrets that dont fit with in the code of ethics as far as human resource is concerned or recruitment.

    And the foreigners who have tried their level best to learn the language it turns out as a disaster … u ve to be fluent as in speak like a native ….. i ve chated with many norwegians who speak english but even thought some sentences are full of patches that they just need repair .

    • RichardEnnJohnson

      Based on your comment, I would not hire you for a position that requires fluency in English, it doesn’t matter where you’re from.

  • What Network…….why don’t you call it communism this ? He, people should get their job based on skills level not friendship.

    • Dagni74

      Its true what he says, most jobs here are network based, that also goes for Norwegians, some work structures are done different here.

  • subhodip banerjee

    Robert, tell me, what makes you think that a person from a third world country will not be well educated? On the contrary, I think, it is people like you who should not
    be allowed to enter Northern European countries. You Aussies have usurped Aboriginal land and reaped all benefits out of it. Which also means that you are directly descended from immigrants.Have you shown
    any amount of gratitude to the aboriginal community?

    I think Aussies are the least educated, among people from first world countries

    • Robert Cumming

      What makes you think I’m an Aussie, I take that an in insult. When you look at the third world immigrants that come to Norway as refugees, many don’t even know what a flushing toilet is, so I very much doubt they are as highly educated as the immigrants that Norway should be after.

  • turdburgular1

    what a shocking suprise, Norwegians have misplaced conceit. Hold the front page that is real news!!!

  • Andromeda9

    This has very little with racism to do.. it has more to do with how the Norwegian society is working, stability and cost.

    So if you have the time – I will try to explain.

    Norway is probably more different then you think. Workers with a similar background will be prefered in most jobs. That is why workers from Sweden and Denmark will get a job easy. And on the other end.. people from a non secular country will find it harder.

    Also.. studies made by the Norwegian work department shows that imigrants from certain areas of the world are not interested in working. They live on the wellfare system in Norway.
    Take people from Somalia for example. 75% of them will NEVER work in Norway. While on the other hand 70% of the people from the eastern part of Europe, India and so on have a job. And from Western/Northern Europe over 90% have a job.
    With the financial crisis in Spain/Greece we’ve seen they come here for a while. But many will not get a job. They have not studied Norway, the Norwegian society, the Norwegian prices AND what is needed to get a job. They don’t speak the language, they may have low English skills, they had jobs in agriculture or in the service industry. Many of the younger ones have never had a job in their life, because they went directly from school to unemployment because of the crisis. That will make it harder to get at job, and require hard work and effort to get one.

    They have seen us on holiday and think we all have a lot of money, and that everything is easy. Then they see the facts, and the high cost of everything.
    They see people driving Europs second oldes cars, they see toll roads, high prices for parking, some of the worlds most expencise fuel, expensive to buy/rent a house/flat, expensive food and all other services like carpenter/plumber/electrician/car mechanic and so on.
    Take me, and my family as an example. We have not been to a restaurant all year.. it cost to much. We have not been to the movies since 2011.. I can pay for 3 month of internet broadband – for the same as one trip to the movies. And then the candy is not included.
    If you go out and drink (which we do not) a small Jägermeister shot here, will cost the same as a 1 litre bottle of Jägermeister in Germany.. I don’t know how many shots that is.. but at least 25. For the same price as 1 beer in a restaurant/bar you can get 1 case of 24 boxes in Germany..
    I can travel from Norway to Mallorca on holliday for 1 week including airplane ticket and hotel/flat – for the same as 6 large Big Mac meals at McDonalds..

    I have worked in Spain, France, Egypt, Thailand, Bali, Greece and the US just to mention a few places – so I have felt the price difference a lot.

    Oh yeah.. and try to rent a car here, or just buy a car.. the price is insane.
    Heavy car and large engine with a low gas milage gets massive taxes.

    Take a Camaro, that is a cheap car in the US. In Norway we have to pay more then 200 000 US dollars for the V8 version.. So far I have not seen one in Norway newer then a 1978 model…

    It is almost cheaper for my family to travel to Greece/Spain/Italy/Croatia for a week then to go to the local zoo/amusement park for one day.

    So we travel a lot. I will not spend my money here. Gets almost no value for the money.

    But back to the story..

    First of all.. it you are 55 years old, it WILL be harder for you to get a job. Norwegian or foreigner does not matter.

    You are already marked as a little less desireable. It may be a long time since you were finished with your eduaction, and an employer is afraid that your knowledge is outdated. Keep in mind that Norway produce next to nothing of simple products.. there are few factories. It is usually high tech and/or power intensive industries (like oil/gas subsea construction, foundries and stuff like that). The rest is just what the society needs to function.. like teachers, cops, firemen, a hell of a lot of administration and the companies that serve these people (washing, selling office furniture, IT and so on). You get the point.
    If you are 55 years old, you are more likely to struggle when learning new stuff.
    A person over 55 may have more health issues then a younger person. It is illegal for an employer to test the health of an employee, or ask if they have an illness or not.

    The age of 40 and above = harder to get most jobs.

    Everything is expensive.. VERY expensive. Like I have explained above.

    It is expensive to educate the emploees. A business may invest a lot of money in an employee. It is therefor an advantage if you are Norwegian and have familiy in the area. You are less likely to move. If you are a foreigner, you may move home. If you are a foreigner, you may start a competing business in your home country. This has happened a few times, and the sometimes the Norwegian company have been out of business before the patent case has been finished. Business owners remembers stuff like that from the news.

    If you are married to a Norwegian, and have kids here – you are more attractive for the employer. You may offer stability.

    A business in Norway will always try to keep the number of employees low, because of cost. They may have adds, looking for people – just to feel the market. And if they can get their hand on a special one, they may hire him/her. It is not easy or cheap to hire a person for a short while – because of Norwegian regulations. It is therfore important that they hire the right person. It is also a pain in the ass to fire someone. . . He/she has to do a really bad job, fight with another employee og be drunk as a skunk at work.

    They will usually try to hire a person somebody in the company already know personally. A school buddy, or a people they know from sports/the gym/some kind of hobby they have in common.
    One of the biggest mistakes is that foreigners don’t join a local sports club, the local red cross, the local gym, the local what ever. If you do volunteer work, you will be noticed.
    The last 4-5 foreigners we hired was people I had prior knowledge of through things like that:

    Egypt – I met him scooba diving through the university diving club. I had seen him before to, and had a positive impression of him.. He has settled in the area with family.

    Sweden – I met him up in the mountains in a hiking trip through DNT. We talked for a while, and we had many similar interests. Swedes are very similar to Norwegians in many cases too, and they have a very good reputation among most employers.

    Scotland – I met him in the ocean kayaking club. Positive, fit person with healthy interests. He has now returned to Scotland, after 5 years – and we had invested about 36 000 US dollars in him, to get him up to date with certifications and so on. He now works for a competitor in Aberdeen.
    Germany – We have 2 Germans, that I met. One doing volunteer work and the other on a wood working class I was taking as a hobby. They are still working here, have settled with their wife from Germany. Have kids and so on.

    Another mistake foreigners do, is thinking that their education is enough – and that it is aproved and relavant in Norway. Most kind of skilled labours need to take their eduation again.. That means at least 1, and ofter 2 or 3 years of school. Different regulation, different symbol use, different tradition and so on. In some cases you can get a relavant job, but need to do the schooling while you work.. like work 3 days, and school 2 days. But it is hard for the school to know what they learn in school in all corners of the globe. So usually you have to start from scratch..
    If the worker works for a Norwegian company and the papers/eduation is not in order – and something starts to burn/leak/fall apart the employer is fucked… by the government with fines, permits get cancelled and extra taxes and what not. The insurance company wants their money back, and they have the money to go to court for ever.. and the reputation.. everybody will know very soon.

    Anyway.. back to eduction;

    A university degree in some (NOT all) fields, will usually be accepted. If you have a bachelor/master degree it is usually all good.. BUT it is adviced that you take a year on a Norwegian university and take extra subjects, and they have to be relevant.
    A friend of mine studied marine biology in Hawaii, and that gegree was not worth much here – before he took another year in Norway. They specialized in marine creatures that was not in Norway.

    We see especially from the US, people with a collage degree . who expect they can get a good paying job from day one – when they come to Norway. And they find out that they have to study Norwegian, and that their collage degree may be bullshit, even though they paid a 100 000 dollars for it.
    There are sooo many jobs you will NOT get in Norway. Most of the jobs don’t even exist. Usually related to arts/therapy/healing/dancing and stuff that is not math/physics based!!
    They have not studied Norway enough before they move. They don’t know the basic facts about Norway, and rent a house in the middle of fucking no where from an online ad. They sell their stuff, move and finds out that it is 3 hours by car to the “local” shop – and no jobs in the area what so ever.
    Or they move to Oslo, and plans to stay in a hotel until they can rent a place. They find out that the hotel cost 200 dollars a day, and renting a tiny low standard flat cost 1700-2000 dollars a month.

    We have the same problem in Norway with education.. they take an eduation (even for many years) and there is no work for them. They may have a university degree, but the only work they can find is in the local supermarket.
    I have several friends that have higher education that now works in clothing stores or a supermarket.

    Lets take a few educations that will not work in Norway.. and you are from the US.
    Policeman: In the US it is a 12-14 weeks eduation, and in Norway 3 years.
    Fireman: In Norway, you usually need a backgroud as an electrician/carpenter/plummer and so on (which is all 2 years in school and 1-2 years practice. And then you start on the fireman training.
    Lawyer: Different laws.. need new eduation.
    Doctor: They have to have extra education and pass a test. And it depends on your eduction background. Easy to get a job if you know some Norwegian and have passed the tests AND are from a country with an approved medical education. Takes at least a year.

    Truck driver.. needs extra education to get proper documentation: usually you need a forklift lift licence, a license to operate a crane on the truck, a licence to drive with rotating payload, a licence to be able to transport dangerous goods which include a medical/rescue part and a firefighing part and more. Cost a lot..

    Offshore: needs a lof of safety related stuff and usually all your skills have to be documented and sertified with regular tests. Will cost you a pretty penny. Also.. mostly engineers are needed with a masters degree and 5 years of relevant practice. Hard to get a job for those coming right from the university.
    Welder: unless you have internationally approved certifications, you are usually out of luck. You need some more school.

    That was just to mention a few. Since the society is fundamentally different, so are the jobs required.

    People are not interested in math/physics/chemistry and other engineering subjects. But that is what the industry needs most.

    Since education is free in Norway, people tend to have a lot of it. So there is a lot of competitors out there.

    Personally I have never left the university. I still take classes all the time. I have about 530 points now (a bachelor degree is 180 points).
    That is my way to guarantee that I will always have a job. It is also a way of meeting more potential coworkers.

    Also.. language, language, language… you have to learn to speak and understand Norwegian at a certain level in 95% of all jobs here.
    It is not the hardest language to learn, and people will try to understand what you are saying.. and give you “goodwill points for trying”. At the same time many will (if you are English) usually switch to English as soon as they hear the accent. They do this because they finally have someone to practice English with, they think they do you a favour and to let you know they understand English (so maybe the conversation can speed up a bit).

    You can just tell them to speak in Norwegian if you want to. You will find it hard to offend a Norwegian (unless you complain about they driving or skiing skill 🙂 ), and you will notice the lack of words like please/sir/Ms/sorry/excuse me and so on. Respect/polihtness is not so much about words in Norwegian – but the tonation when you speak.
    Likewise.. Norwegian tourists in the US will think… what’s up with all the smiling and pretty please with sugar on top, they see and hear in shops.

    Keep in mind that your main language IS an advantage in many cases, if you can speak and write English, German, Mandarin/Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Maybe even French..

    People from Canada (have in general a very good reputation in Norway) and if they are bilingual, it will be a pluss. If you are from the US, and speak Spanish at the same time – it is an advantage..
    But you are still competing with Norwegians that usually have English as their second or third language, German/Spanish/French as their third or forth language..

    and.. outsourcing of engineering and other jobs.. we see more and more that the engineering is controlled from a Norwegian company, and they make smaller projects that they send to a engineering subcontractor that do it for 1/6 of the price in Norway. The work is then checked i Norway, and included in the main project. Requires less new employees.

    And pay.. we have a relatively small difference in pay between different jobs. You will probably (except maybe in oil/offshore) make more money in the UK/US as an engineer. While a job in a shop/service industry is paid better, compared to the US.

    And education IS important. I have a friend that have been looking for work for eight years no, and still no job. He lacks the extra education, and are not willing to get more. He will never get a job with that attitude.
    It is more and more common that people take university or other classes while they work – and usually they have to pay for that themselves. This is at the same time a good tool when they are discussing their income with the boss. More eduction makes it easier for them to get another job, so the company have to pay to make sure they are happy – so they don’t take work somewhere else.

    Just to give you some info on the subject.

    • smadge100

      Lots of insight and information here (which is appreciated), but to sum up what is really problematic for Norway and the foreign workers trying to get established in Norway is this: FALSE ADVERTISING.

      Norway: “Oh, we need more skilled labour from abroad!” or “There are so many positions to fill, we must look for foreign labour to fill them”. What is NOT told to us foreigners is that these needs are for primarily two areas: oil-offshore-gas workers and engineers. If you have any other type of high education with years of professional experience, you can forget it, or spend ages and ages just trying to get your foot in the door because you aren’t named Jens Hansen or Kari Dahl – even if you speak excellent Norwegian, and even if you are married to a Norwegian. Norway loves to paint a picture of itself as being so “international”, “multicultural”, “global”, etc but in reality, it is just a rich little fish thinking it is some sort of big humanitarian whale, swimming in a huge ocean we call the world. Arrogance is often the outer result of inner insecurity and fear. A bright, educated foreigner with lots to offer, who speaks good Norwegian and fluent English, has an excellent work ethic, is efficient, rarely calls in sick, and is willing to work extra hours? NEI! “That might shame us and make us feel inadequate. Hire a Norwegian like us instead!”

      And all that networking you mentioned is like reading something from a big college fraternity in 1950s USA. Sport clubs? Hobby groups? How the hell can someone assess the true character and professional skills / aptitude of another person simply because they go rock-climbing together, or because Øystein’s brother’s neighbour’s son is in the same chess club as you, so he must be perfectly OK for that new job opening at our company, right? Such sad and pathetic truth, unfortunately.

      It’s what’s on your CV, your diplomas, your reference letters that count the most, not “he seems like a nice guy to work for us” just because you have a couple of beers together after a football match. Herregud. But… that’s dear, naive “always keep it koselig” Norway for you. “Networking” like this is the biggest joke, and it often keeps the best, most qualified people out of jobs. “Mediocre but friendly” seems to always outweigh “brilliant and productive” in most Scandinavian work environments — because Janteloven and xenophobia (hidden behind many job rejection emails) are still poisoning the fjords.

  • Norwegian

    As a Norwegian, I am offended by the content in this debate field.

    • frenk


  • Adriana Mirea

    German and Dutch managers are identical, and in Germany is not even allowed to at least be upset for being turned down for jobs, promotions or even equal salaries. I have big issues when renting a flat in Germany, even if I’m an engineer. Law applies only for Germans here.